Mid-Tier Spirits for Every-Day Cocktail Making
We were discussing this on another thread. Here are my every day hooches (hint: buy 1.75L bottles for MUCH better economics) for making an after work cocktail, or bunch of cocktails for a party:
Sauza Hornitos, El Jimador, or Camerena, either silver or reposado for Margaritia.
For Manhattan's I am all over the map, and typically use bourbon instead of rye:
Evan Williams, Jim Beam, Old Overholt
Rums, really depends on the drink.
Coruba, Cruzan, Goslings, Mount Gay, El Dorado, Don Q (which I haven't seen lately). I love Brugal Anejo for a delicate sipper, but is has gotten a tad pricey lately until I caught it in a 1.75L bottle at a great price: $23 or so.
Gin: Tanqueray, Seagram's is surprisingly good, as is Gordon's.
Vodka (I don't drink much vodka, but Sobieski is great vodka at a silly cheap price.
Sazerac is tricky: lately I've been using 50% Rittenhouse and 50% either Old Overholt or Wild Turkey Rye. Not particularly happy with this though. Gotta find some of the higher proof Wild Turkey.
I am sure I will think of more...
Rye: our standby spirit at home, mainly used in Manhattans and their variants, Fort Points, etc. Saz 6 (when we can find it), Redemption, Rittenhouse, Riverboat. Just got some James E. Pepper 1776, but haven't tried it yet.
Bourbon: Eagle Rare, W.L. Weller, Four Roses Yellow Label, Evan Williams. Was surprised how good the $13/750ml Old Fitzgerald is.
Gin: Plymouth (a shame it has been pushed into the premium pricing band), Tanqueray, Gordon's, Brokers.
Irish: Powers, GrandTen South Boston Irish.
Other American whiskeys: Bully Boy American.
Tequila: mainly use silver in Margaritas and other tequila cocktails. Lunazul, Espolon, El Jimador, Zapopan, Olmeca Altos.
Rum: I like traditional Tiki, so have tons of rums and rhums around, but for an inexpensive white rum, like for grandma's Cuba Libres, I use Don Q, Cruzan, or Flor de Caña.
Vodka: Smirnoff. I don't drink a lot of vodka, but I cannot see the point of going higher than this. I consider the whole super-premium category a transparent swindle. Karlsson's Gold I keep around to drink neat.
Sweet vermouth: the missus loves Antica Formula and I'm a big fan of Punt e Mes and Vya, but our budget brand is Dolin Rouge.
will try and get a full list up soon but:
1. striperguy, thanks for starting this thread.
2. on vermouth, I love that the 750 ml of dolin are all ~15, especially the blanc, which is just lovely. also comparatively priced (when you account for size), carpano has recently brought to the US their carpano bianco- i saw it in NY for $23 for a litre. I haven't done a side by side with dolin, so i can't say which i prefer, but look forward to doing so sometime soon.
punt e mes always feels like a steal. and, i've wanted to try the classico. i like antica, but now that i've played aroudn with it on my own... anytime it's used in a cocktail, unless it's a really restrained amount, it just dominates the drink for me (i feel the same about cynar... and wonder if that's just what happens when you've had a distinctive spirit a lot, or if certain ingredients/profiles are more prone to that development).
Friends are bringing Classico and Amer Picon back from France. I will be enjoying myself at their house. They said Classico is great. Punt e Mes is my house sweet, unless I think the drink (or drinker) can't take it.
For dry, I like Dolin and Boisierre. I'd love a dry version of Punt e Mes!
Just wanted to thank you for starting this thread.
Not a "serious" drinker. I mainly keep a bottle of vodka in the freezer for making pie crust!
Yet...I would like to be able to add a bit of seltzer/tonic and lime to my freezer vodka and have that available to sip. I find this "mid-range" list to be very helpful.
I've compiled a table of recommended budget, every-day, and premium brands. I used recommendations from personal experience and various threads form here, eGullet, and elsewhere.
I think the "mid-tier" brands are often better than premium for mixing, as their rough edges and unsubtle flavors tend to stand up to mixing.